Pride takes Cape by storm

Tens of thousands of Capetonians were spellbound by the joyous, colourful procession down the main street of the city

By Gavin Hayward | March 3, 2004

The appointed starting signal, Cape Town's historic Noon Gun, sent a pulse of excitement through the crowd assembled in Green Point for the 10 Years of Freedom Pride Parade on Saturday 29 February.

All the Bent Bikers formed up to lead the parade revved their machines and a police car with its blue lights flashing took up position in front of them to clear the way. Up to 20 floats conceded pride of first place to the colourful and lofty Bronx float - the Mother City's oldest gay bar dominated for the day by a tanned and gorgeous muscle mary clad in a white towel who moved seductively to the beat in his solitary position above the driver's cab.

The floats were accompanied by about 2000 people past the bars, caf�s and shops of the gay village, where hundreds more onlookers lined the pavements and hung out of windows to cheer them on. (Why didn't they join in and swell the numbers?)

The parade then wound its way down to Long Street, slowly up to Wale, then down past St George's Cathedral and Parliament into Adderley Street.

What Cape Town's parade lacked in numbers of participants it made up for in numbers of audience. Tens of thousands of Capetonians were spellbound by the joyous, colourful procession down the main street of the city. Johannesburg, which stages a Parade with ten times the number of participants, could learn from this and reconsider its route around the backside of Rosebank so as to increase its visibility.

The floats included a large one by Guest House Amsterdam, the country's longest running gay guest house, another by Rosies, the gay village's best kept secret - where the Bears hang out - and several truck loads of drag queens. But the biggest stir was caused by The Glen, which entered several sports cars stocked with the stars from Bel Ami who were staying at the hotel while making movies in Cape Town. Well-known faces like golden god Tim Hamilton, a star in the Frisky Summer series, clad only in an elephant g-string, had all the photographers in a flutter.

The parade came to an end back at the gay village where a street party had been set up. Revellers drank strawberry daquiris while listening to Ian Macmahon, spokesman for the Pride committee as he gave credit to numerous sponsors (mostly Pink money), thanked organizers and made community announcements while the whereabouts of the keynote speaker were established.

He was none other than Zackie Achmat, chairman of the Treatment Action Campaign, and as a Nobel nominee surely South Africa's most famous gay man - lauded by Ian as a "marvelous moffie" amongst other epithets.

Zackie reminded us that 10 years of Freedom had come at a price, that we should remember people like Simon Nkoli, Edwin Cameron, Sheila Lapinsky, Kevan Botha and others who had fought for the inclusion of sexual orientation in the Equality Clause of the constitution. We are free because of the work they had done to ensure freedom for all.

He asked the audience to remember that politics is the most important thing in the LGBT movement and that we should always remember that we are part of the broader struggle for freedom. He reminded us that while we were celebrating today, others were in mourning, and burying someone who had died because of a lack of anti-retroviral drugs even though the government had stated they would be rolling them out.

Partying went on into the night�

The Exit team would like to thank Guest House Amsterdam, The Metropole Hotel, and The Glen for their generosity in accommodating us. Also thanks to members of the Cape Town Pride committee for assisting us with media matters, and to Sliver & Confession and BarCode for all the comps.

Cape Pride Parade 2004 gallery




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